Local vendors lobby to claim ‘preferred’ status for RNC

77 vendors present products at Prime Osborn Convention Center

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Local vendors had a chance Thursday to show their products and lobby to participate in the Republican National Convention coming up in Jacksonville in August.

Nearly 80 vendors were selected by the Jacksonville RNC Host Committee to present their products Thursday at the Prime Osborn Convention Center.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to participate in the RNC,” said Leslie Cook of Busy Bean Coffee.

He was one of the representatives from 77 companies at the Convention Center hoping to be selected as a preferred provider for the upcoming RNC.

Cook said he hopes to be able to participate and provide coffee for some of the convention meetings and parties and maybe make a profit from the RNC.

“We can provide any services that the RNC would need,” Cook said.

All of the companies at the site met certain criteria from the host committee, including being able to provide services and goods on short notice and using only products made in the USA.

Members of the host committee rated each vendor and will then make recommendations to those who are planning meetings and events for the RNC. The 77 companies were selected out over 1,000 companies that applied to participate.

Lee Livingston, who owns The 3G’s Grilled and Soul Food Catering, said it would be a great step for his business to participate. News4Jax asked if he was worried about safety, considering the recent surge in coronavirus cases in Florida.

“It is a concern,” Livingston said. “That’s why we want to make sure we follow the leaders that are giving us the information to make sure that we take caution with our mask and gloves.”

Even with talk of possibly downsizing the convention many vendors, like Anthony Swick of Kuhn Flowers, said no matter what happens, the event will benefit Jacksonville.

“It brings in money to not just our company but that impacts the entire community,” Swick said.

Even if a company is not selected to participate, a Host Committee spokeswoman said they can still offer services and take part in convention events, they just won’t have the backing of the Host Committee as a “preferred vendor.”

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